Greetings, fearless bakers!
I hope you all managed to take Gerri’s Terribly Difficult Wine Quiz. Here are the answers:
1. C – Pinot Noir
2. C – Spain
3. C – Thomas Jefferson
4. A – The year the wine was bottled
5. C – Primativo
6. D – All of these
7. B – Dean Martin
8. B – Richard Nixon
9. B – In Mexico
10. C – Cinsault
11. B – Podkum
12. B – Viognier
13. A – the indentation in the bottom of some wine bottles
14. B – an Italian white wine
15. C – Grenache
16. D – Chateauneuf du Pape
How did you do? Post your results/despair/bragging rights in the comments!
Now for the food from our June meetup! I don’t have the recipes for all of them, so you may just have to be inspired and experiment.
We’ll start with dessert, because that’s how I roll. Can we take a moment to admire Gerri’s Rhubarb Sorbet with dotted strawberries and accompanying chocolate biscuit? It was so delightfully refreshing. I don’t have the recipe but there are a swath of them online, and it’s a perfect time of year to experiment with ice cream and sorbets. Nom!
Next is Gerri’s Caramelized Onion, Feta and Olive Tart. I don’t know about the rest of you but my track record for successful onion caramelization is 0 for 5 attempts. I know the rule of “low and slow,” but somehow this has never translated into anything but slimy worm-like things for me. Gerri’s tart was gorgeous, proving once again that Feta cheese and olives are the perfect marriage.
Next have Laura’s Cheese Pastry Swirls of goodness, which are simple to make and super Moorish. Roll out puff pastry, spread grated cheese and some herbs and then spread some thinly sliced meats on top. Roll up and slice. Bake 450 for about 10 min. Ta-da!
Vanora says her husband tried to forbid her from taking her Sausage Cheese Balls along, but I’m glad she brought them. They turned out more scone-like and less moist than she had desired, but I found them quite lovely, and my Scotsman happily hoovered up the leftovers when I got home.
Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease bottom and sides of baking pan(s).
1. Lightly fry 1 pound cooked bulk pork sausage meat, drain and remove the fat. (Put meat aside until step 4)
2. Measure the following into a large bowl. Use a wire whisk to blend thoroughly.
— 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
— 1.5 tablespoons baking powder
— ½ tablespoon salt
3. Cut in ¼ cup cold unsalted butter using a pastry cutter until thoroughly incorporated
4. Add the following, and stir in to the flour mixture:
— 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
— ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
— ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
— 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
— 1lb cooked sausage meat
5. Add milk or oil if necessary to improve the consistency for shaping mixture into 1-inch balls. Place in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brown. Immediately remove from pan.
Can store frozen up to 1 month.
From Vanora: The baked sausage balls seemed rather dry and scone-like, so small balls were more palatable! I wrapped the cooked balls in smoked beef bacon, but regular pork bacon, prosciutto etc would also work. Another time I would be tempted to decrease the flour mix and increase the sausage meat and cheese, as these flavours seemed to be drowned out.
On my third and final try baking my Mini Cheddar Oatcakes, I thwarted disaster by using the recipe on my old Scotland blog, and by adding more butter and a heap more cheese until they resembled what they did then.
I had wanted to try blue cheese mousse because I had eaten mini oat cakes with blue cheese mousse at a party once, and I didn’t want to think up my own ideas when someone else’s was better.
Lisa L was displeased with her Rosemary Crackers, and insisted they resembled the tiny backsplash tiles in Gerri’s kitchen. I refused to honour that sentiment with a comparison photo. They were lovely, and were served with an extremely good salmon mousse. Lisa had even caught the salmon herself, which earns major points (I don’t know what the points will win in the end but there’s bound to be cake involved).
Salmon Dip– thoroughly mix standard package of softened cream cheese and the un-drained contents of an approx 220g can of smoked salmon. Add several dollops of Franks Red Hot Sauce or tabasco to taste. Add cracked pepper to taste. Put into serving dish and refrigerate. Sprinkle with paprika or cayenne before serving.
From Lisa: Here’s some stuff I did right: I added extra rosemary (double the amount) and also sprinkled the tops with additional sea salt before baking. I used a knife to cut the dough after it was rolled out onto the parchment, and pricked the tops of each cracker with a fork. I baked the crackers on the parchment, on a baking sheet.
Here’s where I went wrong (and why they turned out to have both the look and texture of Gerri’s kitchen backsplash tiles): I did not roll them thinly enough, and so I had to bake them too long. They certainly did rise! I would say you need to roll them to about half the height you want them to be.
For Wendy’s Five Minute Dip, which didn’t work so well as leftovers, I highly recommend simply standing next to it for a long time, slowly but surely devouring a good cup and a half of the delicious mix, piled high on the backs of unsuspecting tortilla chips. Do this until you’re just a little ashamed of yourself, then let someone else have a go.
Cream cheese base:
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened and whipped)
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayo
Mix base with an electric mixer and smooth into a shallow plate with edges. Cover with salsa. Cover dip with cheddar cheese.
Options from Wendy:
Vary the ingredients based on taste or what you have on hand
Add chopped tomatoes, peppers and green onions on top of cheese
My daughter uses Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream
Use any type of graded cheese
I prefer to use hot salsa as it is not too hot when eaten with the base
Lana was new to our group and her Rosemary and Nut Crackers were reminiscent of the Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps you can often find in the supermarkets. She served these with goat cheese and her own fig jam. So, so very tasty. Apparently the recipe’s creator is Marie. I don’t know who Marie is but she should definitely join out baking club.
Marie’s Rosemary nut Crackers
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1⁄2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1⁄2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
1⁄4 cup flaxseed, ground
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chpped
Sift together flour, b soda, salt. Add buttermilk. Stir to just combined. Add rest of ingredients. and pour into greased loaf pans.
Bake 35 min. Cool. Slice. Bake 10 minutes on each side.
Modifications: omit parmesean, substitute flax for hemp seed, increased flour by 3⁄4 cup.
Next we have Sandra’s Pine Nut and Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart. I can’t remember if we even managed to save any leftovers from this, or the delightful little cheesy stuffed tomatoes.
½ pound puff pastry, thawed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
½ tsp salt, divided
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
20 pitted Nicoise olives
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
6 oz fresh goat’s cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted, for garnish
Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved, for garnish
Baby arugula or micro greens, for garnish
Roll out puff pastry into a 16 x 6-inch rectangle. Fit pastry into a 14×4 inch tart pan with removable sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400F. Poke tart shell all over with a fork before baking for 10 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool while making filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
Warm oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add olives and oregano and stir to incorporate. Remove frying pan from heat and set aside.
In a bowl, stir together goat’s cheese, egg, chives, lemon zest, remaining ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Spread cheese mixture over bottom of baked tart shell and top with tomato mixture. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown and filling is warmed through, about 25 to 30 minute before unfolding and setting on a serving plate. When ready to serve, garnish with a shower of toasted pine nuts, some shaved Parmesan and baby arugula before slicing.
We also welcomed Lisa H and her delicious Leek and Gruyere Tart. She has convinced me that it is easy, and it certainly proved crowed pleasing, so I think I shall definitely have to give this recipe a go.
Gerri also treated us to homemade Kale Chips, which are easier to make than one might think. I had in the past used the curly kale, but my chips always went soggy after awhile. Gerri swears by the flat kale, a tiny bit of olive oil to massage into the kale and a sprinkling of garlic salt. Bake in a fairly high oven but watch them and flip occasionally until they are good and crispy. Serve and devour!
Finally, we have Jane’s extremely colourful Italian Anti-pasto Skewers. Is there anything better than fresh mozzarella, tomato, salami and black olives? These would be great for a summer picnic.
Whew! How delicious was that? I for one could use a snack.